C4 and UKTV digital channels could sit together

The merger talks between Channel 4 and BBC could lead to a joint venture bringing together Channel 4’s digital channels and BBC Worldwide’s digital channel interests.

This plan would see the E4, More4 and Film4 digital channels and associated ad sales operation join with BBC Worldwide operations in a new company. BBC Worldwide’s ventures include 50 per cent of pay channel company UKTV, which offers specialist channels such as Dave, Eden and Blighty.

Channel 4 declined to confirm if a digital channel tie-up was the central proposal being discussed. However, an insider says that “it would not be a massive surprise to anyone” if this was the basis of discussions.

Such a scenario would leave a core flagship Channel 4 as an independent entity under the leadership of chief executive Andy Duncan (pictured).

Channel 4 faces a growing funding shortfall and the government is keen to find ways to protect its long term future. A merger with the BBC’s commercial arm BBC Worldwide or with commercial broadcaster Five have both been mooted.

Proposals were put forward in the recent Digital Britain report. There is a deadline of March 12 for initial submissions and the final Digital Britain report is expected in May.

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